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She is dressed more formally than she would be for our shop, of course. She wears a smart, crisp suit in beige wool, with a short jacket, a straight skirt, and a silky purple blouse under it. Large silver hoops in her ears and an abstract silver pin in her lapel give her outfit just the slightest edge – businesslike, but still creative. Her attire makes perfect sense … Compared to Frieda’s chic ensemble, I realize that my getup – plain navy-blue dress, low heels, no jewelry save for the wedding set on my left hand – makes me look outmoded. But not fun artsy, who-cares-what-anyone-thinks outmoded, the way Kitty would dress. More conventional-housewife outmoded, the way Katharyn wouldThat restrained, sensible clothing collection in the big closet at home is long overdue for an overhaul.

Katharyn Andersson – fictional character in The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson (Harper Collins).

The Bookseller takes place in 1962-1963 and it the story of Kitty Miller a 38-year-old single woman who co-owns a bookshop in downtown Denver, Colorado. When Kitty goes to sleep she dreams deeply of herself in another life, that of Katharyn Andersson, a married woman with triplets, a big suburban home, and a maid. The story goes back and forth between the two worlds as it moves forward in time, revealing clues as to how the story will resolve.

This book, published in 2015, has received mixed reviews by readers, many of whom found the story boring. What they didn’t like, I actually liked – great detail on 1960s Denver, mid-century decorating, and of course, fashion. Something I did find bothersome was the modern sensibilities of the protagonist. Some of her politically correct thoughts and concerns would not have occurred to a woman in that era. Much of the time, when we were in Kitty’s head, I had to remind myself that this was 1962 and in that regard she felt inauthentic. Still, this is a well crafted, complex story that explores marriage and singlehood for women at a time when to be unmarried was frowned upon.

I heard about The Bookseller from Miranda Mills, who discusses all things books, baking, and living in the English countryside on her YouTube Channel. It sounded like my cup of tea, so I checked it out of the library and every evening for the past couple of weeks I’ve looked forward to jumping into Kitty’s/Katharyn’s world. I don’t often say that.

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